At least seven out of 10 people are prepared to pay more for a product or service if it means receiving better customer service, according to the 2009 National Customer Satisfaction survey from Retail Eyes.
The survey, based on the results of 6 523 UK consumers, found that over half (56%) of respondents will leave an establishment before making an intended purchase if they get poor service.
"With the high street facing a flat Christmas and spending anticipated to be a third less than last year, retailers really need to be on top of their game.” says Tim Ogle, CEO of Retail Eyes. “Our survey shows that if retailers want to make money this season, they will have to get their customer service right. The ones who do, can increase average spend per visit. The challenge is to make sure that standards don’t slip when temporary, seasonal staff come on board.”
According to the survey, the hotel trade is getting it right while restaurants, high street retailers, pubs and bars are slipping behind.
When asked which sector delivers the best customer service, a tiny 6% of respondents rated high street retailers, compared to a healthy 52% for the hotel industry at the top. Restaurants were second with 23% of the vote. Supermarkets received only 11% of people claiming to get good service.
“The little things make all the difference,” advises Ogle. “Disinterested or unhelpful staff really pushes people’s buttons. It’s deeply irritating if you see staff talking when you’re waiting to be served. Pride also matters – customers don’t like staff who look scruffy or untidy."
Nearly half (46%) of respondents said that staff who listen and understand what they are looking for, are friendly and make them feel valued, are the most important things to enhance their shopping experience. The same number of shoppers said that the most frustrating thing is staff who show a lack of interest in serving or those that have a poor attitude towards them.
The key is getting the right balance. An overwhelming majority (88%) of customers said they prefer to be approached by an assistant when they need help rather than be pounced on when they walk through the door. Staff should acknowledge customers to show an interest and availability when the time is right to serve.
Despite the variations in levels of customer service per sector, the survey did show that ‘in store’ delivers better service (76%) against the internet (17%) and over the phone (7%).
"These results suggest that businesses may need to focus on their telephone standards and call handling abilities," says Ogle.
“There is some good news. Retailers are investing more heavily in getting the information they need,” he adds. ‘Those who do, stand the best chance of weathering the recession storm.”